Monday 23 April 2018

Salah silences Blue thunder

Liverpool ride City storm to book return to Champions League semi-finals after 10-year absence

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates with Virgil van Dijk after puncturing Manchester City’s comeback hopes at the Etihad last night. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates with Virgil van Dijk after puncturing Manchester City’s comeback hopes at the Etihad last night. Photo: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Jamie Holland

Liverpool survived a Manchester City onslaught to reach the Champions League semi-finals on a controversial night at the Etihad Stadium that saw Pep Guardiola sent off.

Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino killed off any hopes of a City fightback after an early Gabriel Jesus strike, securing a 2-1 victory and a 5-1 aggregate success in a compelling quarter-final.

There was even more drama in Rome, where Barcelona crashed out after a remarkable 3-0 win for Roma saw the Catalan giants lose out despite winning the first leg 4-1.

However, in Manchester the scale of the challenge proved too much for the hosts as they attempted to salvage the tie after last week's 3-0 loss at Anfield.

Jesus' second-minute effort electrified the crowd before Bernardo Silva hit the woodwork and Leroy Sane had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside. That sparked angry protests from City and manager Guardiola was sent to the stand for his reaction after the half-time whistle.

City could not match their first-half intensity after the break and Liverpool professionally closed out a place in the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition for a 10th time.

Jurgen Klopp after the game. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Jurgen Klopp after the game. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Guardiola confirmed his dismissal was for his complaints to the referee at half-time. "I said he was wrong. That is why sent me off. I didn't insult him. I said it was a penalty and the ball came off Milner," said the City boss, who felt the decisions before the interval made a big difference to the game.

He said: "It is different 1-0 to 2-0. In these kind of games the impact is so big."

Guardiola had no complaints about the overall result. He said: "Big congratulations to Liverpool. They are a top team with an outstanding manager. Liverpool deserved to go through."

Irish Independent

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